he problem: a vast universe with a wealth of stories but it’s nearly impossible to choose where to start.
If you search “Star Wars” on Marvel Unlimited, it’s astonishingly confusing—you’ll find movie and video game adaptations, alternative universes in Tales, Infinities, and “The Star Wars,” multiple titles simply named, “Star Wars,” and some series that actually started in a previous series that eventually changed names but continued previously established storylines!
Now that you’re sufficiently overwhelmed, remember—fear leads to anger and all that. Youtini’s Legends and comics teams are here to help!
We even put together a guide just for this occasion—but it isn’t strictly about Legends comics. Youtini’s Foundational Five of comics gives five perfect jumping-on points for those new to Star Wars comics (plus a couple of honorable mentions). A few of the Legends recommendations are also included in this guide as well—Star Wars (1998), Dark Empire, and Tales of the Jedi.
There are a variety of ways to get started; here are a few of our favorite strategies.
**Guide updated by Jared Mayes on 9/5/22**
Star Wars Legends Comics Eras
Dark Horse Relaunches the Comics
1991 was a monumental year for Star Wars storytelling. Nearly a decade in between the completion of the Original Trilogy and the release of the Prequel Trilogy, Timothy Zahn authored number one New York Times Bestseller, Heir to the Empire! Not to be overlooked, Dark Horse Comics relaunched the Star Wars license with a story unlike any other—Dark Empire. In addition to expanding the story of our main characters from the Original Trilogy in the immediate aftermath of Return of the Jedi, Dark Horse took readers back to a long, long time ago of medieval-esque Jedi and Sith in Tales of the Jedi and the escapades of hot shot pilots in X-Wing: Rogue Squadron!
Writer: Tom Veitch
Artist: Cam Kennedy
Dark Empire, while divisive, is certainly bold. A few short years after the Battle of Endor, the resurrected Palpatine has amassed Imperial forces to reclaim his hold on the galaxy. It’s a Legends story in every way that makes the Legends line great (and ridiculous): a stronghold full of slimy Palpatine clones, a dark and broody Luke Skywalker infiltrating Palpatine’s inner circle in order to bring him down once and for all, Boba Fett surviving the sarlacc, and oh so much more! The first series ran for six issues, was followed by two sequel series, and is collected most recently in the New Republic Epic Collection Volume Five. Tom Veitch’s metaphysical dualism of the themes of light and dark mix beautifully with Cam Kennedy’s washed-out watercolor artstyle. There’s truly nothing quite like it. If you’ve never read it before, reading it is bound to be a powerful experience one way or the other!
Tales of the Jedi
Writers: Tom Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson
Artist: Chris Gossett
Another of the ‘90s stories that established the foundations of the Old Republic for the entirety of the Expanded Universe, to be referenced heavily in 2003 Game of the Year Knights of the Old Republic is Tales of the Jedi. Tom Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson reimagined a time that Obi-Wan spoke of in Star Wars: “for a thousand generations, Jedi Knights were guardians of peace and justice across the galaxy.” It’s precisely that time that is covered in Tales of the Jedi.
Epic and mythological, Shakespearean and ornate, the Jedi and Sith four thousand years before the films talk, look, and feel like relics of a bygone era. Chris Gossett reenvisioned the Star Wars galaxy millennia before the films, and did so with an ornate, lavish visual style. The stories themselves are set across a handful of separate storylines chronicling primarily the downfall of power-hungry Jedi Exar Kun and ambitious apprentice Ulic Qel-Droma who is caught in the crossfire. By the time of Tales of the Jedi: Redemption, the final arc of the series, the saga earns its tremendous satisfying payoff that will leave you speechless.
Star Wars (1998)/Republic/Dark Times
Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Jan Duursema
Perhaps the most galaxy-spanning, longest-running sagas ever made in all of Star Wars storytelling is the thread that began with Star Wars (1998), continued as Star Wars: Republic after issue 45, then became Dark Times in 2008. It starts with an admittedly bizarre story of Ki-Adi Mundi’s quest to save his species from extinction before Episode I, found its stride in the shades of gray within the story of Aayla Secura and Quinlan Vos, fleshed out the conflict of the Clone Wars long before Dave Filoni’s beloved television series, and extended beyond the Jedi Purge with the tales of lone surviving Jedi in the shadows of the galaxy’s underbelly in Dark Times. Republic is a compilation series that establishes characters, returns to them when you’d least expect it, and cements itself as one of the most important comics series in Star Wars history. Creators John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, who wrote and illustrated a considerable portion of the series, are two of the most prolific masters of their craft, with a knack for establishing compelling conflicts, characters, and dynamic action.
Clone Wars Multimedia Project
In one of the most unprecedented company-wide storytelling initiatives ever to happen within Star Wars, the comics released as part of the Clone Wars Multimedia Project are certainly worth the read. They’re especially interesting considering the direction the acclaimed animated show about Ashoka’s uncanny adventures would eventually come to be. Titles include Obsession by writer Hayden Blackman and artist Brian Ching, with Obi-Wan and Anakin’s friendship and rivalry in an adventure to eliminate Asajj Ventress once and for all, Republic issues 49-83, and the Clone Wars Adventures by the the Fillbach Brothers for younger readers. The Clone Wars Epic Collections are a great starting place for consuming the Clone Wars—Legends style.
Modern Legends Era
Following the release of Revenge of the Sith, the floodgates were opened into new areas of Star Wars storytelling. For the first time in any substantial way, George Lucas allowed creators to write about the twenty years spanning the trilogies—“the Dark Times.” In addition to stories set in this time period, many other great comics were produced at the fringes of the timeline, from thousands of years before the films to as far forward as a hundred years afterward.
Knights of the Old Republic
Writer: John Jackson Miller
Artists: Brian Ching, Dustin Weaver, and others
Best-selling Star Wars author John Jackson Miller has done just about everything a writer can do: novels, comics, multimedia crossover events, short stories, but one of his most enduring and seminal works is Knights of the Old Republic, alongside artists Brian Ching and Dustin Weaver (among others). Spanning fifty issues and another five-issue conclusion, the long-running ongoing series chronicles the story of failed Padawan Zayne Carrick and his ragtag band of shipmates on their quest to avoid and eventually take down Zayne’s murderous former master, Lucias Dray. It’s got Mandalorians, Ithorian bounty hunters, the wise-crackingest snaggletooth in Star Wars history, a protagonist you love to root for but who can’t get out of his own way, and perhaps the most dastardly villains in the entire Expanded Universe.
Writer: John Ostrander
Artist: Jan Duursema
Set 100 years after Return of the Jedi, Legacy is Star Wars from an entirely different perspective. Law and order are upheld by red-armored, white lightsaber-wielding Imperial Knights under the leadership of a Solo/Skywalker descendant. Everything goes to pieces when a long-dormant Sith Lord, Darth Krayt, enacts his scheme to take the throne. The only one who can set things right: Cade Skywalker, a washed-out Jedi apprentice-turned-spice runner who wants none of the family drama. Once again the Ostrander/Duursema creative combo creates a story that is as Star Wars as it gets—with bold, memorable characters and storylines with the flowy capes, hair, and jumps for which Duursema is so well-known. The series soars to some of the highest highs in all of Star Wars storytelling in its 55 issues. While best enjoyed by those who have an expansive knowledge of the Legends storyline after Return of the Jedi through Legacy of the Force, it can also be enjoyed by any comics reader who wants to see what Star Wars would be like if it was totally turned on its head.
While there is a lot to love about the Classic Era of Legends comics, we don’t necessarily recommend them as a starting point for new readers.
Writers: Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, Mary Jo Duffy, and others
Artists: Carmine Infantino and others
In some of the earliest Expanded Universe stories ever written, the Marvel Star Wars comics are legendary. . . though not exactly foundational for the decades worth of comics to follow. In many ways, the original Marvel comics were an early experimentation with what Star Wars could be. It’s bright, loud, wild, and wacky—much like the other Marvel comics of the time more than like what Star Wars would eventually come to be known as. While they served an essential purpose in the history of Star Wars publishing, they are not necessarily the best place for modern readers to start with Star Wars comics. Fear not! Many of the most enduring elements from the 107-issue series have transcended the original run to appear in current Canon comics—from Jaxxon the green space rabbit to Hoojibs to Valance the cyborg bounty hunter!
The Newspaper Strips
Another blast from the past are the Newspaper Strips from acclaimed writers such as Archie Goodwin and Russ Manning, with detailed art from Al Williamson These are generally regarded as the superior classic series, though lacking the popular appeal of the Marvel Comics. The series ran for five years, beginning in 1979. It included a comics adaptation of the novel Han Solo at Star’s End. It’s here where you’ll first learn the infamous account of “the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell” Han references in the Empire Strikes Back. They’re all collected into two marvelous Epic Collections if you aren’t able to track down decades-old copies of the Los Angeles Times! Plus the modern reprints have remastered, full-color artwork originally missing from the comic’s debut incarnation.
Star Wars Legends Comics Characters & Themes
Youtini Reading Guides
Shameless plug! Did you know that we have over 100 personally curated reading guides featuring what Star Wars books and comics to read if you like a certain character, movie, era, or topic? Two characters in particular shine in comics in a big, bad way. Do you like Mandalorians? We’ve got you covered. Droids? Bounty Hunters? Revenge of the Sith? There are reading guides for all of them, each one with Legends comics on the list.
The man in black himself is a character tailor-made for the comics medium. It seems that he had his comics renaissance in the late-Legends era with such standout books as Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin, and Purge. His looming broodiness, ever-present scowl, and penchant for violence makes for an especially good comics character.
Another of the characters who has his fifteen minutes of fame in comics is the sarlaac escapee, Boba Fett. Between Blood Ties, Twin Engines of Destruction, Agent of Doom, and a plethora of other single issues, mini-series, and self-contained Legends comics, Boba Fett is interpreted and explored in dozens of different ways by different creatives. The Blood Ties omnibus is a great place to start, collecting one of the very best Boba Fett comics alongside a handful of other powerful comics included in the compilation. You’ll be forging your own Mandalorian armor in no time.
Star Wars Legends Comics Creators
Follow a Creative Team
One great way to get the ball rolling in your Star Wars reading is to get into a groove with what speaks to you. Yes, you can read similar content with characters you adore and get different writers’ interpretations on said characters, from Luke Skywalker to Mace Windu to Aayla Secura. Another way to approach Legends comics is to find comics creators you jive with—and stick with them!
Perhaps there is no pair of creatives in all of Star Wars as prolific as John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. They created the majority of Star Wars (1998), Republic, Legacy—and that’s just scratching the surface. Known for crafting iconic characters such as Darth Krayt and Aayla Secura, they are the perfect combination of dynamic action and engaging storytelling. You can follow their work from the ancient past in Dawn of the Jedi to the far-away future when Luke Skywalker is a Force Ghost in Legacy.
One of the most prominent Legends comics writers is Project Lead for the Force Unleashed, Hayden Blackman. In addition to directing the groundbreaking 2008 video game, Blackman penned some of the most outstanding comics storylines in the Expanded Universe. Jango Fett: Open Seasons not only adds depth to the “simple man trying to make his way in the universe,” but established much of Mandalorian culture in one of the most cherished Legends comics ever written. Beyond Open Seasons, Blackman wrote Darth Vader and the Lost Command, Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, and many more one-shots along the way to video game greatness.
So many more!
Perhaps you liked Cam Kennedy’s iconic watercolor art in Dark Empire and want more. Kennedy illustrated quite a few Boba Fett stories and has a handful of fantastic one-shots: Empire 7 and the covers for Classic Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back 2, Jabba the Hutt: The Gaar Suppoon Hit and Star Wars Tales 18.
Randy Stradley, Senior Editor at Dark Horse Comics wrote a number of great Legends comics as well. He was an architect in launching the vast universe of Legends comics when Dark Horse began making Star Wars comics such as Tales of the Jedi and Dark Empire His titles include Jedi Council: Acts of War, Dark Times (under pseudonyms), Star Wars: Empire and he served as co-writer of Crimson Empire.
Star Wars Legends Comics Formats
There are two primary ways to consume Legends comics: digital and print. Both have advantages and disadvantages. For more on that, see our guide that explains the differences between all the differences in the media. For now, let’s break down the Legends side of things more specifically.
Far and away the easiest way to tackle 99% of the comics ever made in Star Wars Legends is Marvel Unlimited. A digital subscription service available for $10/month or $70/year, Marvel Unlimited is a tremendous repository for almost every single comic in the entire the Expanded Universe! While the vast majority of Legends comics were initially published by Dark Horse, the Marvel acquisition in 2014/2015 also transferred the rights to all of the classic Legends comics to Marvel as well. This opened the floodgates for fans like us to access everything all in one place!
It can be a bit tricky to find where to start reading, though. That’s why you’re here! Between all of Marvel’s superhero backlog and Canon Star Wars comics mixed with Legends comics, it’s. . . simply a LOT. Once you know what you’d like to read, however, it’s all in one convenient place.
If you’d prefer to own digital copies of your comics, most Legends comics are available at an affordable price, normally $2/issue, on Amazon’s massive digital comics marketplace, Comixology. No longer its own distinct, separate website, Comixology is no longer as convenient for comics fans to navigate as it was in the days of yore. It can be tricky to determine whether or not you want to buy comics as single issues or in collected volumes, or if one collected volume contains exactly the issues you’re looking for—sometimes a book will contain curated issues of a series rather than each sequential issue. So read the descriptions closely! Nevertheless, it remains one of the go-to resources for digital comics acquisition.
Oh, and by the way, keep an eye out for the yearly Comixology sales around May the 4th!
Not to be outdone, Amazon/Comixology also offers their own digital comics subscription service, Comixology Unlimited. While it’s a similar model to Marvel Unlimited, it doesn’t contain quite the same wealth of Legends comics as their Marvel competitor. For example, the first Epic Collection of Legacy is available on Comixology Unlimited, but the rest of the series is not—but it’s available in its entirety on Marvel Unlimited. Nevertheless, not a bad way to get started! It’s a great option if you’d prefer to stay in the Amazon ecosystem—just be sure to double check that their service has the comics you’re looking for.
Let’s face it—actually getting your hands on physical comics is still the experience some prefer. You’re in luck! There are a variety of ways to find old-school Legends comics to satisfy your collecting reading desires.
A fairly recent phenomenon is that of the hardcover omnibus from Marvel. The ultimate collecting format, these tend to collect an entire series of comics in one massive volume. The Knights of the Old Republic omnibus has all fifty-five issues (plus a little bonus content), comprising over 1000 pages and 13 pounds in weight. They each come in two different covers and have a cover price of $125.
Perhaps the most accessible among modern print options for Legends comics is the Marvel Epic Collection. These paperback compilations are a ton of fun to read. They are the perfect size to get the full-length, full-page, full-color comics reading experience, with about twenty issues per volume. They cost $35 upon release but often escalate quickly afterwards—they’re hot commodities for both readers and collectors! The Epic Collections are a great option for digital readers, as well. One more tip—it never hurts to check your local library!
Other (Mostly for Collectors)
Before the Marvel acquisition, the best way to collect and consume Legends comics en masse is in the paperback omnibi from Dark Horse. Altogether totalling thirty-five volumes, the Dark Horse omnibi are similar in concept to the Marvel Epic Collections (though the page size is smaller than a modern comic book). Typically around twenty issues apiece, many of the omnibi are either a significant chunk of an ongoing series’ overall run, or a conglomeration of one-shots and single issues around a theme—such as the “Wild Space” volumes. These continue to be highly sought after by collectors in particular and become more difficult to acquire as time passes since their last print date. Nevertheless, they remain in circulation in many libraries, in the aftermarket, and in digital marketplaces.
Picking up the original single issues can be a fun format as well, but once again, they are all out of print and are desired primarily by collectors. Browse the stacks at your local comic book store in the flesh to get that decades-old Legends comics grime on your fingers for the full effect! You never know what hidden gems you’ll find.
Read Alongside the Community
Between choosing your desired path and format for reading comics in the Star Wars Legends universe, you’re well on your way to taking your first steps into a larger world! Once you’ve read some, there’s no better community of like-minded fans to join in the celebration of these beloved classics.
Youtini’s Discord is a thriving, positive fan community with thousands of members and dozens of channels to choose from. For Legends comics in particular, check out #sw-comics, #legends-books, as well as our podcast-specific channel, #legends-lookback. There you’ll find friends who share your love, people to have spirited and respectful debate with, and memes galore.
Legends Lookback is our live Legends show, which runs every Thursday night at 9:30 Eastern. Legends comics are in their regular rotation, with hits such as Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison and Crimson Empire. Join Jared, Freddy, Rick, and Emily and let them know you found out about the show through this guide for a special shoutout on the air! While the Legends crew doesn’t tackle comics in every episode, they do so frequently enough to warrant tuning in.
Youtini.com is your home for discovering and celebrating the wide world of Star Wars literature—and we’re just getting started. Check out our Patreon for more bonus content, our book profiles for information on the hundreds and hundreds of Star Wars books and comics in the database, the release schedule to find out what’s hitting the shelves in the near future, and of course our timelines—with toggles and starscapes and lightsabers for that extra flare you’re looking for.